I may have been an English teacher for 18 years, but the #1 biggest spelling mistake I make over and over is remembering: how to spell “definitely.” Ways I’ve spelled “definitely” wrong include: definitly, definately, definetly, defanitely, and defenitely — all nonsense words that don’t exist. Another misspelling I’ve done repeatedly is the tricky typo that spellcheck doesn’t catch because it is a real word with a different meaning: the adverb “defiantly.”
This lesson article, illustrated by my (sometimes silly) hand-drawn cartoons, will help you remember the correct way to spell “definitely,” and will also explain the definition and meaning of its commonly confused word, “defiantly,” so you realize why it’s such a problem to mix it up “definitely” vs. “defiantly.”
Ready for a ridiculous memory trick for how to spell “definitely?” Check out my drawing below.
How to Spell Definitely
To remember each of the letters to spell “definitely” correctly, gaze at my drawing above to remember, “Daniel Eats Fish IN IT Every Leap Year: “D-E-F-IN-IT-E-L-Y.” Just visualize a guy named Daniel munching salmon while standing in a box on February 29, 2024.
Too silly? (Hey — don’t knock silliness… it helped us remember how to avoid the misspelling, “freind.”) Ok, let’s look at the definition to learn another way to remember how you spell “definitely.”
Synonyms for Definitely
Another word or phrase for “definitely” is: certainly, for sure, without a doubt, clearly, of course, without question, or absolutely. In short, as you can see from these synonyms, the word “definitely” is about having a FINITE, clear idea about something.
Ah ha — this leads to the next trick for how to remember the spelling of “definitely:” it has the word FINITE smack-dab in the middle, surrounded by “DE” and “LY!” Write “finite” first, then add the surrounding letter pairs around it. This memory device is particularly helpful for me to remember the “E” before the “-LY,” which I too often forget. (Want another spelling lesson? Check out “fiery or firey!”)
A final way to answer “how do you spell definitely?” is to remember that the pattern of vowels in the middle of the word goes: “e-i-i-e” and they are evenly spaced, alternating with consonants. (This balance of letters is similar to our trick for how to spell attendance.)
Note that there is no “A” anywhere in “definitely,” and the vowel pattern is symmetrical, and visually resembles a strong fence, just like the boundaries of a clear and certain — or DEFINITE — decision. This illustration below can help you visualize these spelling tricks, and also transitions us nicely into discussing the word “defiantly.”
Synonyms for Defiantly
Now that we’ve conquered “definitely,” let’s move on to “defiantly.” Before learning the trick for how to spell “defiantly,” it’s useful to first understand the definition and meaning of the word. “Defiantly” means doing something in a way that is “defiant,” which means challenging, fighting, or resisting something — showing defiance.
If someone is doing something defiantly, picture them angrily shaking a fist, screaming, “I will NOT do that!” Synonyms for “defiantly” include: obstinately, insubordinately, in a headstrong manner, insolently, uncooperatively, rebelliously, resentfully, unbendingly, and unmanageably.
How to Spell Defiantly
Now that we know synonyms of “defiantly” are about being AGAINST or ANTI something, let’s use that to remember how to spell “defiantly” — another entry in our commonly misspelled words. Focus on the “ANT” in the middle of the word, and visualize a rebelliously angry ant shaking her little fist and screaming “I refuse!” This will help remind you that “defiantly” is ANT-i (against) something.
Note also that “defiantly” features an “A” in the middle, while “definitely” has zero “As” in its spelling. This should help reinforce the “Against” definition of “defiantly.” Ready now for the cartoon illustration of how to remember “defiantly?” The angry ant is eager to show you.
Sentences with Definitely vs. Defiantly
Now that we have the spelling and definitions of these two words, let’s put it all together with two example sentences to help reinforce the difference between “definitely” vs “defiantly:”
- I will definitely call that student’s parents, because every day she defiantly yells at me, “I don’t want to do your homework because your clothes are goofy!”
- In contrast to last week when our dog defiantly walked off into the desert and didn’t come back until evening, our walk today was definitely a success because we didn’t lose our pet!
How Do You Spell Definitely? Now You Know!
Confession: To avoid spelling “definitely,” there have been many times I’ve abbreviated it in text messages to the slang informal word “def” — as in, “I’m def going to eat this whole cake.” However, now that we know the tricks about how to spell “definitely” vs. “defiantly,” we can definitely conquer these mischievous words for good!
Want more tricks to remember other hard words to spell? Check out “Spelling Separate,” “Whose vs. Who’s,” “Apart vs, A Part,” “How to Spell Onomatopoeia,” “How to Spell Rhythm,” and “Spelling Dilemma.” Are there other spelling challenges that you’d like me to make cartoons to help remember? Leave a comment below or message me, and I’ll do my best to grant your wish!
The author and artist, Lillie Marshall, is a National Board Certified Teacher of English who has been a public school educator since 2003, and an experienced Reiki practitioner since 2018. All art on this site is original and hand-drawn by Lillie. She launched DrawingsOf.com Educational Cartoons in 2020, building upon the success of her other sites, AroundTheWorldL.com (established 2009), TeachingTraveling.com (founded 2010), and ReikiColors.com. Subscribe to Lillie’s monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media to stay connected!